U.S.-Mexico Border Crisis Not Over, says Immigration Official

Even though crossings have cyclically declined over the past few months, the number of migrants coming over border is still high.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Texas Insider Report) — With Washington now dominated by talk of the 2020 Election and Sen. Bernie Sanders' emergence as the Democrat Party's front-runner, immigration seems to have become a less pressing issue. But a top U.S. Border Patrol Official has a warning: The crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is not over.

“It is kind of a new norm. We will go back, mark the words, we will go back to the crisis levels we had before" if some recent deterrent efforts are blocked by the courts, like a policy forcing asylum seekers to wait out their claims in Mexico, said Brian Hastings, chief of law enforcement operations at Border Patrol said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. "We’re at risk at any time.”

Even though crossings have been down over the past few months, and news of custody deaths and teeming facilities full of children and families has faded from front pages, the number of migrants coming over the border is still high.

Monthly apprehension numbers have declined in recent months, and President Trump has reached agreements with Mexico and other nations to enhance cooperation with the U.S. on immigration issues.

But resources are still stretched, say authorities.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump has not forgotten that the issue was a key one during his 2016 victory. He continues to point to it at public events and at rallies.

And as he ramps up his campaign heading into 2020, he’s likely to invoke it often as a measure of his success, telling his supporters that construction is happening on the long-stalled wall he promised along the southern border – despite Democrat's efforts to fight him at every turn – and that far fewer people are currently being apprehended crossing the border illegally.

During the federal budget year that ended Sept. 30th, 2019, there were 859,510 apprehensions by Border Patrol, as well as more than 110,000 more encounters of people who tried to enter legally, but were deemed inadmissible.

Border officers pleaded for help, but it wasn’t until the summer – when reports of squalid conditions and surging numbers of detainees and children dying were published – that Congress authorized additional funding to increase capacity. That funding expired at the end of the fiscal year.

Previously, 2014 was considered a crisis year, when the Obama Administration saw a crush of unaccompanied children at the border. The overall apprehensions by Border Patrol were 479,371; there were 372,000 more in 2019.
“I am incredibly proud of the agents,” said the Border Patrol's Hastings.

“They have been vilified, but they deserve to be thanked – because we have never, ever dealt with anything like this before.”

Hastings said President Trump's "Remain in Mexico Program" is expanding in parts of California and Texas, plus a new rule barring asylum to those who pass through a third country and crackdowns by Mexico at its own southern border has helped.

More than 55,000 people have been turned back , and officials say many have gone home.

But Hastings has seen Mexico crack down before, but “we’ve never seen them sustain for that long.”

The good news is that the number of immigration officials reassigned to the border has gone down, Hastins said, as more agents and officers go back to their regular jobs. And the Border Patrol is looking to create a civilian workforce to help agents with some non-law enforcement duties, he said.